Losing a top-line forward is always a step backward for any team. There may be no bigger step backward for the Sharks than losing Brent Burns, who has missed eleven straight games and counting.
Back in the 2013 shortened season, Burns was converted to a forward in an attempt by Todd McLellan to energize the slumping Sharks. What a genius move that was. In the small fraction of the season that remained, Burns racked up 9 goals and 11 assists. Since then, he has developed into a top-line forward for the Sharks, making the top-line with Tomas Hertl and Joe Thornton one of the most productive lines in the NHL so far this season.
The Sharks were rolling offensively and defensively and had the best record in the NHL (7-0-1) with Brent Burns in the lineup until he took a stick to the face. An injury that was supposed to sideline Burns for a maximum of one game has now turned into something a lot more serious. He hasn’t played since October 19th (11 games ago).
In the eight games that Burns has been a part of this year, he has scored 4 goals along with 4 assists. That is good for 1.00 points per game, good enough for 19th in the NHL among all players. He is up there with forwards like Patrick Kane, Martin St. Louis, and Bobby Ryan, all key pieces to their respective team’s success.
Since Burns went down with “sore gums,” the Sharks have gone 6-3-4, dropped a little in the standings, and have been losing to some very beatable teams. It doesn’t appear that the Sharks will be with Burns’ assistance in the near future as he took a step backward in his recovery today by reverting back to the no-contact jersey. Even the team has no idea when he will be able to hit the ice in a teal jersey again:
There’s days where I think he’s really close and there’s other days when you want to do some work with him and he doesn’t seem able to do it. -Todd McLellan
It is clear that the Sharks are able to scrape by with Burns as a scratch every night. In fact, they are probably in the top-quarter in the league without him. However, if the Sharks want to take the next step and make a run for their first Stanley Cup, they will need Brent Burns there with them, because he makes them a complete team.
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